Cool U.S. Breweries You Should Visit This Summer

One of the best things about this country is the sheer abundance of microbreweries offering flavorful ales, tasty food, and care-free ambiance — especially during the dog days of summer. Here are some of our favorites from coast-to-coast.

Brooklyn Brewery, (New York, N.Y.)
This establishment is a popular fixture of the Williamsburg neighborhood, thanks to a stellar lineup of nine perennial favorites, seven beloved seasonals (Dry Irish Stout, anyone?), and dozen Brewmaster’s Reserve selections that include a maple porter and a chocolate-flavored concoction known simply as ‘There Will Be Black.’ Plus, the brewery serves a mean slice of N.Y. pizza — a far cry from the matzo-ball joint that once occupied the same location.

What the Experts Say:
“Small reservation-only tours are hosted on weeknights (including a guided tasting of four beers), but you can also kick back at the popular Tasting Room hangout on weekends. Enjoy the brews, order pizza and join free no-reservations tours on Saturdays” — Forbes Travel Guide

Elk Head Brewing Co. (Buckley, Wash.)
This small establishment, which is located in a storage facility just a few miles from the southern entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park, proves that outward appearances can be deceiving. The resident brewmasters/mad scientists have also proven, time and time again, that delicious beer can be rendered from just about anything; past concoctions have used habanero peppers, stinging nettles, wild mushrooms, and other unconventional ingredients. Complimentary pretzels are also served, but the delicious pub food they serve in the adjoining dining hall is also worth your while.

What the experts say:
“The taproom is enormous and interesting inside – and not what you’d expect. The sit-and-drink area is outfitted with a long communal table and another row of high-top tables. A herd of wood-carved animals keeps watch in the corner. Samples are poured freely in mini beer mugs and empty growlers are decoration. This place has serious character” — Sue Kidd, The News Tribune

Flying Dog Brewery (Fredericksburg, Md.)
Flying Dog offers 10 signature craft brews, all canine-themed. Some are traditional, such as the Underdog Atlantic Lager and In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen, while others include the Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, and Wildeman American Saison. Also, the brewery’s blog is awesome.

What the experts say:
“When the staff feels like cooking, Flying Dog will serve complimentary barbecue alongside house brews like In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen and the intimidatingly named Raging Bitch IPA. Sometimes craft beer is a cruel mistress” — The Huffington Post

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. (five locations throughout Wisconsin)
For the record, just taking a trip to Wisconsin technically counts as visiting a brewery. With four locations serving the greater Madison area (and another one two hours north in the town of Wasau), this brewery chain offers a wide selection of signature, award-winning brews. Best of all, Great Dane is very green; each pub is equipped with alternative-energy fixtures and devices, and the owners have a cooperative relationship with a number of local farms and businesses.

What the Experts Say:
“Great Dane built a reputation for food that’s as delicious as its beer—perhaps because they often combine the two. Start dinner with beer bread slathered with honey butter, then dive into a plate of Wisconsin Style Cheddar Mac, made with the brewery’s own golden Peck’s Pilsner. But it’s OK to simply sip on a brew here, too” — Midwest Living

Kona Brewing Co. (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)
In the last 18 years, this Big Island establishment has arguably become Hawai’i's best known beer, thanks to its enduringly popular releases like Longboard Lager, Fire Rock Pale Ale, and Pipeline Porter. The brewery offers complimentary tours and tastings seven days a week, and the in-house food offerings are also highly regarded. Kona beers can be found nationwide, but look at it this way — if you visit the brewery, then you’ll also get a trip to Hawai’i out of the bargain.

What the Experts Say:
“I would highly recommend scoping out the KBC if you are on the Big Island of Hawai’i… in between those luaus, of course!” — The Beer Whisperers

New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, Colo.)
Even in the Mecca of microbreweries that is Fort Collins, New Belgium reigns supreme, thanks to popular ale offerings like Fat Tire Amber and Trippel Belgian Style. The daily, kid-friendly tours at New Belgium’s tasting room are another big draw, which allow visitors to sample the entire tap run. Slots for the tours fill up fast, but you can purchase advance tickets onine.

What the Experts Say:
“It won’t raise eyebrows that a craft brewery in funky Fort Collins, Colorado is a swell place to work. But New Belgium offers more than free beer (one at the end of each shift and a 12-pack a week). The company is also a rare amalgam of art, whimsy, and ritual undergirded by a powerful spirit of ownership, concern for the environment, and respect for company history” — Leigh Buchanan, Inc.

Stone Brewing Co. (San Diego, Calif.)
This San Diego staple has been in business since 1996, and the brewery has been headquartered in nearby Escondido since a relocation in 2005. Stone is arguably best known for their Arrogant Bastard Ale, which is widely available throughout the Western states. However, the Smoked Porter and Cali-Belgique IPA are also quite noteworthy (read: delicious). The brewery itself is a marvel of interior design — and an adjoining hotel is currently under construction.

What the experts say:
“Daily tours take visitors into the inner workings of the 55,000-square-foot facility, and helpful guides lead tastings of four craft beers, including one limited-release brew” — The Huffington Post